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Waldensian Temple

Via dei Mille, 1, 10064 Pinerolo (TO) - ITALY

RELIGIONS Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox


After the Napoleonic occupation, a lot of Waldensians decided to move to Pinerolo, where they organized worships in private houses. They have been demanding a public temple for years, but the strong catholic influence delayed its construction. When the temple was finally built in 1860, it was used as place of worship, minister’s house and Waldensian school. On the contrary, now it is used for cults only. The aspect of the temple, little similar to that of a religious building, has left many observers perplexed by justifying the nickname of comfortable renversee (reversed comet) soon ironically assigned to it by the Waldensians themselves. In 1927 the poor visibility imposed a few decades earlier was remedied. Radical restoration work is carried out both inside and outside: the cult room is moved to the ground floor and on the front is added a pediment with the Waldensian coat of arms, thus opening the entrance to the city. The interior of the temple, now on the ground floor, responds to the classical scheme, with the organ on the back wall, behind the pulpit, according to the Anglo-Saxon use, and a star-shaped ceiling decoration on a celestial background. The windows date back to the restoration of 1957.
The Waldensian Church, which was so donominated after the process of integration between the Methodist and the Waldensian Churches - completed during the years 1974 and 1979 - is one of the eldest Churches of the Reformation, stemming from the movement named after Waldo of Lyon in 1170. It was in 1532 in Chanforan that Waldensians decided to join the Reformation and to translate the Bible into French, through donations given to Pierre Robert Olivétan, Calvin’s cousin. In 1686, the Duke of Savoy forced on the Waldenses a tragic choice: abjuration, exile or death. Thousands were brought in Piedmontese prisons on their way to exile. Three years after, as a result of a favourable international politics situation, some managed to return to their land marching through the Alps: the «Glorious Return» in 1689. It was only in 1848 that they enjoyed full civil rights and became free citizens. Today, the Waldensian Church is organized in 172 local churches, in Italy and Switzerland. The Waldensian Faculty of Theology, founded in Torre Pellice in 1855, was then based in Rome. Every year, on the last Sunday of August, the Synod takes place in Torre Pellice, with deputies coming from all over Italy. To complete this short history, one must also aknowledge the presence of 25 local churches in Rio de la Plata, in South America, where a number of Waldensian families emigrated in late XIX Century.
The Waldensian Temple was added, together with the Cathedral of St. Donatus and the church of the Romanian Orthodox Parish of St. Stephen the Great, in an ecumenical itinerary. It is an urban route to discover the three Christian confessions present in Pinerolo, through a visit to the three places of worship. The tour was born in 2014, as outcome of a collaboration between Pinerolo Diocese, Waldesian Church and Ortodox Romanian Church, the three most important religions in town. Visiting Saint Donato’s Cathedral, Saint Stephen The Great’s Ortodox Romanian Parish and Waldesian Temple, you will discover symbols, furniture and architecture of these buildings and you will reflect on differences and similarities, which led to a useful dialogue between creeds.
The community of Pinerolo, one of the largest, belongs to the Waldensian Church, present in Italy and in Europe for more than 800 years. The Waldensians share the ideas and principles of Evangelical Protestants, those Christians who are more than half a billion in the world. In particular, their faith is based on certain convictions: - Only to God the glory. Everything is relative to the sight of his holiness and his justice. - Only Christ. As the Gospel witness attests, Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and men. - Only grace Grace is the gratuitous, one-sided and original love of God for humanity. No "religious practice" can win his benevolence, for this reason the human being is "already saved", despite not being able to deserve anything from God. - Faith only Faith, a gift from the Lord, comes from the personal encounter of the human being with God. - Single Scripture For the Protestants the only recognized authority in matters of faith is the Bible. They do not accept any ecclesiastical magisterium as a source and interpretation of Scripture. - Individual freedom is a fundamental value. It is not the church that can determine what can be done or what can be believed. - Churches are always churches to be reformed - The universal priesthood. In the universal Christian Church all the baptized, lay or pastors have the same rank. Pastors, men or women who are married or not, are not the members of a sacred category "apart", but Christians whose theological formation allows to animate the community
- Direct visit: to the Waldensian Temple, to the Cathedral of St. Donatus, to the Church of the Romanian Orthodox Parish of St. Stephen the Great and to the Monument to Tolerance erected in memory of the persecutions suffered by the Waldensians, symbol of tolerance and hope.

- Classroom activity
Artistic itinerary with detailed information on the three buildings of worship and on the Monument to Tolerance.
Historical itinerary with insights on the Pinerolo events of the three Christian communities.
Activity of verification of the acquired knowledge and skills.



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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.